Time to Move?

I’m struggling against my current living conditions. I’m living with family, supposedly to get more support for my mental illnesses. Instead, my cat is constantly yelled at for something natural to him or locked in a room of his own. I’m living on someone else’s schedule of rising, meals, housework, shopping, medical appointments. My family has a very different worldview, even to not watching the news and having the privilege of staying ignorant of the world. And it is impossible to live with a passive-aggressive parent who was emotionally abusive when I was growing up and now still is, though I ignore it.

I want to move away, possibly back to Chicago where I have a strong support system. Possibly I could move somewhere nearby. Possibly I could take this opportunity to move back to California where my soul abides. And I could see the ocean and forests regularly, something that feeds me.

I’m upset, and so I texted my therapist who told me to breathe, to remember my values, to make a list of pros and cons, and to blog. Thus, I am blogging my values and pros and cons. It helps me to write everything out, in case you couldn’t figure that out from the fact that I have a blog – about myself.

Values: Health, Expressing my compassion, Spirituality of some sort, Purposeful/Meaningful living, Active involvement in world working for justice and peace. I have a hard time coming up with them without the value cards in front of me, but you can really only focus on a few at a time. So having just a few is ok.

Pros of moving: Own space and schedule, Live out my values in my daily life, Take care of my cat in way he needs to be, Use and display my own things and not have them be in storage, Sense of independence (if not obvious from other pros), Can have visitors over and have space to do that

Pros of staying with family: Dinners cooked for me (I do cleaning), Some cleaning done for me, Some support for mental health, Less money every month

Cons of moving: Living solitarily and extra stress on mental health from that, Extra expense right now and every month, Stress of moving on mental health, Extra support needed from non-existent friends or not-local friends

Cons of staying with family: Not my schedule, Living with passive-aggressiveness, No appropriate space for guests, Mean to my cat, Suppressing natural living according to values, All the things important to me in storage

There might be more pros and cons. It’s a hard decision. My heart is pounding. It seems my mental health would be stressed initially, but would ultimately improve with independence? Staying with family is repressing myself but with some support. I don’t know which value is the one to follow. I can’t follow my gut instinct, partially cuz it’s to flee and partially because I can’t trust my brain or gut as discussed in the post “Bipolar Me.” https://suddenlybipolar.com/2018/08/08/bipolar-me

One parent wants to have a Big Family Discussion, with Compromise. Right. Some people are going to get everything they want. As usual. It might be better to move.

Resistance

I completely resisted therapy today. I almost walked out even. Who know that probing my thought would lead to such resistance! The song in my head – well, the half line from a song – grew more insistent. I wanted to get up and walk out. I had answers in my head that I couldn’t talk myself into saying aloud. I tried to sidle up to my thought and I still couldn’t do it. Good grief! It was just a thought!

I don’t even know exactly what the thought was now. I think it was that I felt resigned that I would go into depression from this slightly depressed place, and that I would be a slave to moods forever. (I want to be manic or at least psychotic, or both. I’m annoyed by this depression. I don’t see stability coming any time soon, if ever.) My therapist had me give a mood, age and gender to the thought. So I decided the thought that I was resigned to being depressed and would be slave to my moods forever was frustrated and pissed off and scared, and that she looked like a 23-year-old me. I couldn’t figure out what she wanted me to say to her. I did figure out – but couldn’t say aloud – that she wanted me to hug her. What’s that about? The song in my head – excuse me, half line of a song – grew more insistent.

My therapist invited me to let whatever thought – including walking out – be accepted and heard so that we weren’t denying her feelings. He asked if the song was a sort of defense mechanism, albeit unconscious. I said maybe, made sense. I still didn’t want to talk.

I wish I could go back and not be resistant. But it was what it was. I’m trying to figure out what so much resistance was about. Part of it was that I didn’t want him to write in his notes about walking out or that I was resistant. What should I care what he writes? Besides, I was trying to mind read, and that doesn’t lead anywhere.

So now I’m supposed to put a hash mark down every time I don’t feel depressed. Just to see that I’m not depressed ALL the time, I guess. I can see through the assignments…

Bipolar Me

I wrote about whether decisions were made by me, or by bipolar, a few days ago here. I was conflicted about my own decision-making over the years, especially by those decisions I now know to be poor ones. Today I came to new insight with the help of a wise one. I decided to let myself off the hook and let decisions made by bipolar moods stand as they are. If I was manic, I was manic, and the decision is from bipolar. There is a “bipolar me” that has been working in the background basically my whole life. As my mood fluctuated – regularly – I made decisions and experienced life with this persona. Bipolar me did crazy things and poor things, and sometimes there was good that came out of it. And sometimes not. But there is a bipolar me that is in ascendancy most of the time. There is no “me” and “bipolar.” There is bipolar me.

I’m just getting to understand a little bit about this bipolar me. She, if there is a gender, tries to make decisions with her gut, which doesn’t work most of the time. Though it is the seat of compassion and the infamous “gut instinct” that people tout, I can’t trust it. It has brought me heartache and mistakes, and it has led bipolar me to get close to suicide, oh, at least a few dozen times. My brain I can’t trust as it is sick with broken neurotransmitters and lies to me daily, often through gut instinct. But my chest, where my heart and lungs lie, has brought me out of danger with reason and with a survival instinct. It reminds me that all bodies and consciousnesses strive to stay alive. I can trust that. I know that my heart and lungs will work until my dying breath – hopefully later rather than sooner (when I’m thinking from my chest and not from my gut, which says the opposite at least once a day).

My goal is to understand bipolar me as a sentient being. What does it mean that I am bipolar All.The.Time. and have been for decades? What does that mean for making decisions into the future, i.e., can my gut and brain be retaught or retrusted when stability is finally reached?

So cheers to bipolar me! Now I have an answer to who has been responsible for my life. It’s bipolar me. And sometimes the mood has pushed me into unhealthy decisions, and sometimes I’ve thought with my chest and made better ones. But I’ve been bipolar the whole time, and that’s who I am.

Unsettled

My mood is off today. I’m a bit depressed and showing physical symptoms of anxiety, such as grinding my jaw and tapping my feet. I’m thinking more about suicide but no intent, thank goodness. I was even annoyed while getting my hair done today.

I haven’t been feeling that great, though I thought I had a couple stable days. Then today happened, and it was Friday all over again with a lower mood. I even thought of calling my therapist, but what would I say? I’m feeling a little depressed as well as anxious and irritable; help me? What would he be able to tell me?

I guess I could have used a friend to talk to. Which I don’t have here. I have people from church that have said I could call them, yet I don’t feel ready to do that, maybe because I’m hesitant to reach out whenever this happens. I could have called friends from Chicago too, but again I resist reaching out. That probably warrants its own blog post…

I’m not sure what would help me feel better.

Broke Lady of Leisure

I can’t find anywhere to volunteer that floats my boat, so to speak. One I’m still waiting for the background check. The rest? Who knows. I RSVP’d to another postcard-writing event for one of the political candidates I’m supporting. I have a blood drive to attend next weekend.

Not a whole lot to do except Wait, and Self-Improvement. So I’m basically a Lady of Leisure right now. I read. I watch HBO shows I’ve recorded or funny late night  shows the day after they aired. I watch streaming shows like Orange Is the New Black’s new season. I read a lot more. I exercise. I go to spiritual direction, NAMI, and my therapist. Oh, and I have no money to spend, so it’s not like I’m at Starbucks (my ONLY local coffee place in 15 miles, WTF Texas!) or going shopping or ordering up meals from GrubHub to try some new places.

I guess I’m taking care of bipolar by self-improvement? The days run together though. I try to get outside the house everyday, but a day like today is a fail. I watched shows and read all day, except for the hour I exercised and took a shower. Oh, boy! The highlight of my day tomorrow is the color and cut at my new salon – waaaay cheaper than my last salon. I suppose that would be the highlight for most women though. Getting a fresh ‘do is always good self-care.

I would have thought spending my time in meaningful pursuits was a better way to use my time as a disabled person than simply doing things for myself. My mood is stable again, thank goodness! It would be a good time to make the world a better place, I thought. Instead I’m stymied in that department. So I’m stuck with leisure, and I’m making the best of it by exercising my brain with challenging subjects to read – nonfiction and controversial-contemporary fiction. And appointments that give insight to my current struggles.

I’m trying not to be bored – another reason to volunteer. But good grief! Without money to spend, I’m not liking the lady of leisure lifestyle very much. And even with money, how could I be so selfish as to spend so much on me? I’m a little ashamed that I have so much free time and not a lot worthwhile to say I did with the time. I know I can’t hold a job. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to hold volunteer jobs and failed miserably too. It’s hard when my moods have been so variable and hospitalizations have been so frequent. I hate calling in to say I can’t be there just because of a mental health reason that crops up more than a cold or flu might.

How I spend my time troubles me. That so much depends on my mood troubles me more.

 

A Sick Brain?

A lot is going on in my head right now. Regret over decisions made, decisions I’m (wrongly?) chalking up to bipolar moods, calling it a sick brain that has led me to where I am today. All of this was refuted, well, by my therapist today.

Cultivating curiosity in my past because of prompts from a book has led me to judgment rather than increased curiosity or empathy, or even self-compassion. It’s as though all I can see is young me making decisions that may have been influenced by bipolar or just by youth. Can’t tell. I see a little bit older me trying out discernment but now questioning the decisions I made based on careful deliberations and consultation, and instead see only bipolar. I see current me managing bipolar as my whole life.

Not a lot of optimism here, folks.

I think more slowly and make fewer connections than I used to. I don’t think my intuition is working anymore, since diagnosis. I can’t trust what my brain is doing, throwing out mood states and lies one day, and then out of nowhere I get a month of stability for the first time EVER, only to have it ripped away by med changes again. I’m told that having trouble thinking can partly be a side effect of meds. OK. It can partly be aging. Not that I’m old, just entering middle age actually. I guess I’m ok with that? I haven’t heard that as a “symptom” of aging at this stage. I definitely have had trouble thinking ever since a hysterectomy led to menopause brain, but nothing as drastic as after falling precipitously from the manic episode into a suicidal depression that led to a bipolar diagnosis.

Nothing leads to saying I have a sick brain. But isn’t that what bipolar disorder is? Neurons are firing when they shouldn’t or not firing when they should, both of which affect mood states and functioning – and thinking. Medically I have a sick brain, and I’ve had one for 20+ years. My mood states have fluctuated regularly. How can I trust that _I_ made the decisions all through my life, and not bipolar mood state me? And if it was bipolar me, do I hold myself accountable for those decisions, or discount them as bipolar brain?

None of this was adequately answered for me today. My therapist, I think, tried to get me to understand that I am not a bipolar brain, though we joked at the beginning that you can think you’re in control and then – boom! – your brain says it is. So which is it? Is it an existential _I_ making the decisions, or a medically sick brain decidedly influencing the decisions?

We didn’t get as far as answering that question. He did encourage me to be curious about the good that came out of the decisions and not just question and judge the decisions. I still can’t be sure it wasn’t a sick brain that made them.

Just Another Blog Post

I’m blogging because my therapist expects me to keep writing. It’s helping my anxiety to put in writing what I’m thinking. So, just another blog post about … nothing.

I’ve been doing some spiritual seeking this week with a new book from a friend of mine, Meredith Gould. It’s Desperately Seeking Spirituality: A Field Guide to Practice. Each chapter has questions at the end to delve deeper into each topic or practice. I’ve been journaling the answers instead of just answering them in my head. I’m not sure I’ll go back to the answers, but writing them out is helping me be more specific and targeted for getting at where I’m at spiritually these days. You’ve read about my struggles, and I feel I just have to start over. Hence, this book and its title were very on point.

I didn’t work out at all last week. I felt guilty at the time, yet now I’m glad for the break. I’m starting back up, and hope to get into the pool now that it’s closer to 90 than over 100 this week. Maybe that will help the water feel less like a bacteria-infested bathtub. Ugh. I’m not sure knowing the salt water keeps it clean is enough for me if the water is so warm. Might as well be a warm hot tub instead of a hot hot tub, if you know what I mean.

I tried yet another place to volunteer today, this time a place that gives mental health services for the community. Sounds perfect, right? Not only is there nothing available right now to volunteer to do, both email addresses I was given to contact the volunteer coordinator didn’t work. Good grief, can I get any other doors blocking my way to give back to the community and to do something meaningful with my time! I don’t really like/can’t do food service, standing on my feet for longer than a few minutes, or schlepping things from place to place. So soup kitchens and thrift stores and construction are out. My heart just isn’t in it, especially if my back can’t be in it either.

I feel like I’m getting compassion fatigue and I’m not even doing anything but staying aware of all the issues plaguing our state, nation and world right now. I don’t know how to help anything other than stay aware and I guess ready to act once one of the volunteer places opens up. I’m still politically active, if that’s a thing. I wrote up postcards for a candidate on Friday night. So that’s something.